I don't expect you to read the whole way through, but thank you if you do. I'm sad the season is over and this is my way of coping...
Another ski season has come and gone. Another year of grinding out school work early in the morning to make it to the hill by lunchtime. Another year of throwing myself off cliffs and rails and jumps my body would later regret. Another year of cold and wet drives home in an old subaru; the heat still doesn't work. All this for the love of skiing. For the friends who do it with me. For the mountain. The mountain I've called home since I was a kid. Just a small east coast mountain, nothing impressive. But I know this mountain like the back of my hand. Every side hit, every drop, every shortcut through the woods, every box and rail. I've probably slid that fat 20 foot tube about 50,000 times. I've been proud to call this mountain home.
For the past few years especially, I've been up here almost every other day. As I rise up the mountain on the first lift up the excitement rises as well. I make the traverse over to the park and as the jumpline comes into view I see people are already throwing down. Just like the thousands of times before, I take my usual warmup lap through the park. A few straight airs and rail slides later, I can confirm the jumps are perfect and the rails are slick. We're blessed with such a great park crew here, and because of them the features are always fresh and well groomed. But now I'm ready to throw down as well. Nothing special of course, just some sloppy 270's out, or some 360s, or maybe even hit some jumps switch if I'm feeling good. And as always, some group of kids no older than 12 will be going huge. But it's always been a comforting feeling seeing the young kids do so well. It gives you motivation to progress- an "if they can do it, I can do it" type thing. And speaking of progression, it's so cool to watch people do better throughout the season. You see the same guys here day in and day out working on expanding their bag of tricks. It's a tight knit group here, so when somebody finally stomps something, the celebration is often shared by everyone.
I haven't landed anything new in weeks but that's okay beacause I've just spotted some of my friends coming up the lift. I've skied with these guys for about four years now. Even if the snow is bad, I know our time together will be good. From joking around on the lift, to hyping each other up to try new tricks, there's never a dull moment with these guys. However, this last week of the season though I've tried to enjoy their presence even more. Next year we'll all be in college- going our seprate ways. I might see them over Christmas break if I'm lucky.
But the sun is beginning to set, I don't have time to think about the future. I have two hours left to ski before the lifts shut down at six. I'll be off snow for eight months give or take, so I better go big. I start trying 5s instead of 3s, 4s and superfeds, instead of my usaual 2s and kfeds. One hour left. I want to get a few last clips for my season edit. My phone is dead. It's time to just live in the moment. 30 minutes left. It's still about 60 degrees and people have been going hard all day. The s-rail is beginning to tip over. 1 minute left. I take one last ride up the lift. Everyone's at the top of the park, getting ready for the last lap. Barks and hollers ring out across the mountain as we line up for a train. The clock strikes six and we go. Upwards of 50 people taking that last run through a melty park. Utter chaos, but pure euphoria. The s-rail was finally knocked down. But it's over all too soon.
At the bottom everybody says goodbye. I share fistbumps and high fives with good friends and people I barely know. But we all share that same love for skiing. It's when I get to my car when reality sets in. I'll miss this mountain. I'll miss everyone I've skiied with here. I'll miss making all these memories. Next year I'll be at another shitty east coast mountain, but it won't be the same as this one. A home mountain can't be replaced, and with a mountain like this, I couldn't ever truly say goodbye. So I guess, see you later :)